26. Geoffrey Simon, London Symphony Orchestra, 1986

Holst - The Planets (Simon, London Symphony Orchestra, 1986)


This is a sterling Planets.

“Mars” is zippy and no-nonsense. I’m guessing the trombone player was having a great time, because he/she got a bit ahead of himself/herself when playing the first phrase of his/her solo bit from 2:19-2:25. The aforementioned (and gender-unspecified) trombonist settled down when the phrase was repeated (2:25-2:31). In the loud rum-pa-pum-pum section (4:22-5:16), the snare drummer has a bit of trouble keeping a steady tempo. There’s also some dodgy intonation from a clarinet at 6:06. But apart from those peccadillos (as opposed to armadillos), this is eine gute “Mars”.

“Venus” is superb. So is “Mercury”.

“Jupiter”, however, is better than superb: it’s excellent. Here’s an example of that excellentness: In the return of the Jolly Tune (5:57-6:20), Holst asks for the tune to be played slower than it was the first time (1:01-1:22), and then speed it up to the tempo it was the first time. Geoffrey Simon and his merry band do exactly that. It’s perfect.

This really is a mighty fine Planets. The only thing I wish for is better sound. The sound quality’s not bad as it is, but for a Planets this good, I really think it deserves super-duper, demonstration-class sound quality.

Trivia: The more I listened to this Planets the more it crept up the list. I’m seriously thinking about putting this in the top 10.

Update: I didn’t.


2 thoughts on “26. Geoffrey Simon, London Symphony Orchestra, 1986

  1. wonderboy September 20, 2016 / 5:21 pm

    a good performance, but nothing more


  2. Dylan September 29, 2018 / 1:54 am

    I love this performance. This is probably because this was the very first classical music recording that I owned. It was recommended to me by my high school section leader (Euphonium player).

    The recording is not great, and the LSO is not always perfectly in tune. But, I think they have a very emotional performance and great dynamics, both volume and tempo. I agree that this deserved a better recording and better production.

    Some of my love for this is nostalgia, but when I compare it to some other technically superior recordings, there are a few aspects to this performance that I haven’t heard yet from others, although I’ve probably only listened to 10 or so in my time. Jupiter is one of these facets, just as you mention. Additionally, I also prefer the pacing and dynamics of Neptune to most other recordings I’ve heard, but once again the intonation could be better, and that is unfortunate.


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